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It is impossible to overstate the importance of English poet GEOFFREY CHAUCER (c. 1343 c. 1400) to the development of literature in the English language. His writings which were popular during his own lifetime with the nobility as well as with the increasingly literate merchant class marked the first celebration of the English vernacular as a tongue worthy of literary endeavor, most notably in his unfinished narrative poem The Canterbury Tales, the format and structure of which continues to be imitated by writers today. But the impact of Chaucer s work was felt even into the 16th and 17th centuries, when the first major collections of his writings set a high standard for how authors should be presented to the reading public. This widely esteemed seven volume set first published in the 1890s by British academic WALTER WILLIAM SKEAT (1835 1912), Erlington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo Saxon at Cambridge University is based solely on Chaucer s original manuscripts and the earliest available published works (with any significant variations or deviations between versions highlighted in the extensive notes), and comes complete with Skeat s informative commentary on many passages. Volume I features a detailed life of Chaucer; a complete list of Chaucer s works; The Romaunt of the Rose, a translation of a popular and controversial French poem of courtly love typically attributed to Chaucer; and minor poems including: The Book of the Duchesse The Compleynt of Mars The Parlement of Foules A Compleint to His Lady Merciles Beaut proverbs of Chaucer and others.
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